HERMON, Maine — One shot at victory was the only chance that the cheerleading teams contending for the Big East title got Saturday night.
However, the Hermon Hawks were unfazed by the lack of call-backs for this competition.
“I don’t think that it makes us nervous because it doesn’t give us time to get nervous,” said senior Rachel Taggart, one of five seniors on the team along with Jody Demmons, Kayla Pelletier, Kayla Whittemore and Kyla Whittemore.
Not having time get nervous worked just fine for the Hawks as their overall score of 147.2 set them far from the pack in the Big East Conference Cheering Championships at a packed Hermon High School gymnasium.
It was the second straight title week for Hermon as it also won the Penobscot Valley Conference Big School crown last Saturday.
After finishing as the runner-up at last year’s Big East Conference meet, the Hawks improved their score by about 30 points. This year’s runners-up, the Wildcats of Presque Isle, scored 127.4. They were followed by Ellsworth (124.4), last week’s PVC runner-up, John Bapst of Bangor (120.6), then Caribou (119.5), Central of Corinth (114.2), Mount Desert Island (107.3), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (103.6), Old Town (100.2), and Bucksport (99).
Each team performed twice, but first performance was an exhibition round.
Hermon was very excited for its win, but more importantly was pleased with its improvement from the PVC meet last week. The Hawks improved their score by 15.8 points.
Hermon head coach Lisa Pratt thought her team’s intensity level was a bit higher this week.
“I think last week that everyone was really new and was showing the routine for the first time,” Pratt said. “The scary time is always the first time and I think the girls were really comfortable today. I mean, they’re in their own house with their own fans and I do think that helps,” she said.
The team clicked throughout its routine.
“I think that our dancing was right on, that and our jumps section, and we added a new motion section to our routine and I really think that that brought it home for us today,” Pratt said.
However, Pratt plans to make at least a couple changes to the routine before next Saturday’s competition, the Eastern Maine championships at the Bangor Auditorium.
“…We’ve been kind of holding back because they haven’t really hit it, but we will be putting something new in for regionals,” Pratt added.
The Hermon team is made up of Abbe Curtis, Meagan Dearborn, Demmons, Kasey Fratini, Casie Frederick, Cortney Hawes, Makelle Jarvis, Katelyn Lugdon, Pelletier, Mackenzie Reynolds, Brianna Savoy, Kelsey Small, Jasmine St. Pierre, Taggart, Kayla Whittemore and Kyla Whittemore, Kelsey Carmichael and Rayshell Gagne, and coaches Pratt, Miranda Robinson, and Kristie Reed.
Pratt said this Hermon squad is the best she’s had as far as working hard together.
“They really want it and I think what brought it home was the last stunt. It is a really hard stunt, it’s a round-off back handspring into a ball position,” Pratt said, “and we knew that if we could get that stunt at the end of the routine, because you’re so tired by the time we hit that, we knew that it should really be amazing and they hit it and it was the best landing they ever had today.
“This was the best ending stunt they’ve ever done. So I do I think they took pride in that and I think that spirit showed,’’ she added.
Presque Isle’s girls and coaches screamed with excitement and joy when their runner-up finish was announced and they hope to improve more for Saturday’s meet.
“Each competition that we attend we get scored and judged, so each week our goal is to just score better so we can prepare for the regional competition, which then we could move on to states,” said Presque Isle coach Jolene Kinney, “and a personal goal for us as Presque Isle, we’ve typically been at the end of the pack, so this is a really big win for us even though it’s not the win.”
After Saturday’s EM finals, the teams have a week off before the state championships on Feb. 7, also at the Bangor Auditorium.